Working independently, award-winning nature photographer Stephen Gorman and beloved New Yorker artist Edward Koren respond to the consequences of destabilizing our natural environment and speak to their alarm about the global climate crisis. The artists have come together to express their two very different — but mutually reinforcing — visions. The exhibition centers on the uncanny synergy between Gorman’s wildlife and landscape photographs, and Koren’s drawings, lithographs, and etchings.
Gorman’s photographs in this exhibit were created in Kaktovik, Alaska – an Inupiat village in the embattled Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, sitting directly in the political, cultural, and environmental crosshairs of the Anthropocene. The polar bears in Gorman’s images are climate refugees facing extinction as the arctic sea ice they depend on for survival retreats at a rapid rate.
In creating the works in this exhibition, Koren has described himself as a dramatist of the Anthropocene. His bemused and bewildered creatures, caught between fear and acceptance, occupy landscapes in which human culture has been fragmented and reduced to ruins. His hapless creatures suggest a profound realization of what is unraveling at their feet and speak to the folly of not caring for the environment that sustains us all.
Edward Koren is among the great cartoonists who have defined The New Yorker magazine over the last half-century. His hirsute creatures — human and animal at once, composed with a flickering line — make his work instantly recognizable. Koren has collaborated on illustrated books such as How to Eat Like a Child by Delia Ephron, A Dog’s Life by Peter Mayle, and The New Legal Seafoods Cookbook by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer. He has written and illustrated books for children, Behind the Wheel, and Very Hairy Harry. He has also published seven collections of cartoons that first appeared in The New Yorker, the most recent being Koren. In the Wild, 2018.
Stephen Gorman is an internationally recognized photographer and best-selling book author. His work focuses on how cultural values and national mythologies shape our relationships to the world we live in and the diverse societies with which we share it. Gorman is the author and photographer of books including The American Wilderness: Journeys into Distant and Historic Landscapes, and Northeastern Wilds: Journeys of Discovery in the Northern Forest. Arctic Visions: Encounters at the Top of the World was commissioned by the Inuit of Nunavik and won the Benjamin Franklin award. Throughout his career, Gorman has worked on cultural and environmental assignments for leading periodicals such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and Sierra.
Down to the Bone is presented as part of PEM’s Climate + Environment Initiative and is made possible by the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.
ABOVE IMAGES: Edward Koren, Thinking About Extinction II, (detail) 2016. Lithograph. Stephen Gorman, Overshoot (2017). Photograph. Courtesy of the artists.